Residents of the mainland's commercial capital know little about their new mayor, economist Han Zheng. Mr Han was one of the city's eight, largely anonymous vice-mayors, although his portfolio included the important areas of urban planning and land management. The new mayor gave no victory speech after the local legislature approved his appointment in a closed-door session. The youthful-looking Mr Han, 48, simply shook hands with outgoing mayor Chen Liangyu and quietly assumed office. Mr Han is Shanghai's youngest mayor since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. His appointment is no surprise, as his name was put forward four months ago. Foreign business executives are cheered by Mr Han's training as an economist and hope he will be reform-oriented. Foreign diplomats are heartened that he rose steadily through the city's ranks to win the mayor's post, instead of an outsider. They believe this is a sign that the mainland's bureaucracy is becoming more professional. However, one local journalist said it would be difficult to see Mr Han's true character until he started making policy. Mr Han comes from Zhejiang province and studied and worked in Shanghai. The new mayor served in the lumbering state industry, including the Shanghai Number Six Galoshes Factory. Anaylsts believe Mr Han is unlikely to tamper with the policies that have made Shanghai successful and will continue opening the city's economy. Shanghai aims to become an aviation hub with the expansion of its airport, and a shipping centre following the completion of a deepwater port. However, it will have to wait until the mainland relaxes its grip on capital flows before it can become a regional financial centre. The post of Shanghai mayor has typically been a springboard to the central government. President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji and politburo member Huang Ju all held the position. The number of former officials from the city in the upper reaches of government has caused some grumbling among other provinces about a 'Shanghai faction'. But others say the rapidly developing city has provided a training ground for capable officials. Mr Han will take responsibility for making the 2010 Expo a success. The city has great hopes that the world fair will stimulate economic growth and bring prestige, much the way Beijing views the 2008 Olympics. In his first public outing as mayor, Mr Han told a visiting delegation from Croatia that he aimed to solve 'practical problems'. Shanghai has recorded double-digit economic growth for the past 11 years, but pollution, traffic jams and lack of affordable housing have followed its success.